Whew. This is a hard one to write.
I’m a Black mom, and it feels like last week was the culmination of what my ancestors and colleagues have been pursuing for over 200 years: the right to be heard. The right to be seen as equal. The right to social justice.
White privilege in motherhood looks like being three times more likely to survive childbirth, not worrying your child will get racially profiled, and no one asking who (or where) the father of your baby is. For black mothers, we carry the invisible load of this as well as protecting our children’s innocence, convincing the world of their worth and choosing daycares and schools that have representation.
I can feel the shift. If you’re a White mom taking the time to read this, that’s a shift right there. It’s incredible but admittedly overwhelming. I’ve had colleagues reach out and inquire about ways to support Black children and the community at large. While there is a part of me that’s hurt it took the death of a Black man by the hands of a White police officer for the awareness, I’m thankful for new allies. It would be remiss, however, not to acknowledge so many of the progressive White modern moms who already KNEW this was an issue and fought right alongside Black mothers for change for years. Thank you, ladies.
So what do next steps look like? Many organizations have offered solutions. The NAACP has called for a complete and thorough policy reset. Personally, I also applaud the sentiments of former President Barack Obama.
But how can we teach our children to be more inclusive and aware of social injustice, so that in 30 years when my son is a father someone doesn’t message him saying “they didn’t know” about what happens to the Black community daily? It helps to discuss race with children early, no matter what their age. Statistically speaking, children have already formed unconscious biases about race by the age of five. The New York Times has also prepared a list of books to help explain racism and protest to kids. You can also commit to specific actions, even turning them into SMART goals.
- Commit to making recurring donations or volunteering your time each week, month, quarter, etc. to nonprofits supporting racial justice.
- Plan to have X number of difficult conversations with older loved ones, children, colleagues, and friends each week, month, quarter, etc.
- Be a conscious consumer, researching X black-owned business options before purchasing for yourself, your home, or your children’s toys.
- Vote to serve yourself and other minority communities in your area in every local, state, and federal election.
- Educate and immerse your family into the black culture by going to X number of black-owned restaurants, listening to X number of black musicians or reading and watching X number of books and films each week, month, quarter, etc.
And please, please teach your children to see color. It allows them (and you) to ignore the complexities of social injustice, and you’re not actively dismantling your prejudices and unconscious biases. Most importantly, it limits your ability to appreciate individualism. Without seeing color, you and your kids never appreciate how beautiful a picture we can make when we’re all on the canvas together.
White moms, I leave you with a big ask. Please, be patient with Black moms. Just like you, we want nothing but the safety and well-being of our children. I thank you for wanting to continue the conversation, but forgive us if we seem anxious and trepidatious of your concern and help- we have quite a bit of unpacking to do with regards to systemic racism. Also, be patient with your children as they ask you questions about racism- it’s in their inquisitive nature to dig deep. Don’t fear not having the answer; just be willing to help them look for it.
And let’s remember the common enemy here- those needy children of ours. 😊
All my love for ALL moms,